Skip Nav

Table Manners For Kids

5 Basic Table Manners For Kids

Your kids may have learned table manners for restaurant eating, but if your kids are anything like mine, those table manners aren't nearly as good at home. Circle of Moms member Rhionna H. points out two important things to remember about kids and table manners: they need to learn them while they're young and they will learn by your example.

With that thought, she kicks off some basic table manners for kids that moms think we should all be teaching.

Keep reading.

1. Wash Up Before Sitting Down

Mom Chelsey W. says you can't keep kids clean all the time, but you can should definitely make sure they wash their hands before eating. For most, it's a matter of hygiene, but for some it's also a matter of life or death.

Rita S.'s preschooler has severe nut allergies, so she has had to teach him to always wash his hands before putting them near his mouth. Other moms with kids with similar allergies say if everyone learned to do this, it would reduce their child's risk.

2. Wait Until Everyone Is Seated to Eat

With crazy activity schedules, it's not possible to all sit down at the table together, but Rhionna says she tries to make sure her family all sits down together at the table when they can. After that, it's important to let your child know a family meal means the family eats together. Once everybody has been served (and grace has been said if you say it) it's OK to begin eating.

3. No Phones at the Table

This is definitely a modern day, techno-world table manner, but I suppose it's the equivalent of not answering the phone at dinner time (the rule when I was kid) and it goes for kids and parents alike. Mom Danah H. has expanded this common courtesy to include her younger children. Her version of this basic table manner is: "No toys, no TV, no phones. Just us!”

4. Hands Are the Only Acceptable Body Part on the Table

When I was a kid, the big push was to keep your elbows off the table. Moms today say that elbows on the table isn't nearly such a big deal, but getting your child to keep their head off the table is. Mom Kelly says she has "honestly never in [her] life" seen someone put their head on the table, but other moms to tweens and teens like me say she will.

It's that "stretch one arm out on the table, slump down, and rest your head on the arm" move that moms dislike. It gets in other people's space and it basically says, "I'm bored, can I go?" without saying it.

5. Use "Please," "No, thank you," and "Excuse me"

There are a number of polite phrases moms teach their kids to use at the table, but these seem to be the top ones. They can be used for a variety of different situations. Cathy P.'s daughter has learned she needs to ask to "please be excused" before she leaves the table.

Jane M.'s children use the phrase "excuse me" when they experience any kind of noisy bodily function and to ask for a turn to talk. Teaching your child to say "No, thank you," can help them let people know when they're full or prevent them from making rude comments about food they don't like.

More Manners

Some moms say it's more important to focus on what their kids eat rather than how how they eat, but I don't think it's an either-or situation. There's nothing wrong with having some rules about "no thank you bites" and eating protein and vegetables before dessert, but I don't want to have to see them hanging out of my kids' mouths while they talk with their mouth full!

Latest Family